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Nick Sirianni announces that Gardner Minshew will start at Cowboys

Gardner Minshew
Gardner Minshew

Gardner Minshew will start at quarterback for the Eagles in Saturday's NFC East game against the Dallas Cowboys, Head Coach Nick Sirianni said on Thursday at the NovaCare Complex in his final press conference before kickoff. Sirianni said that Jalen Hurts, the starter all season for the 13-1 Eagles, has made progress rehabbing his right shoulder sprain, but that he isn't ready to play this week.

"Jalen did everything he could to get his body ready to go and at the end of the day, he's not going to be able to do it," Sirianni said. "He tried like crazy. I know he still wants to go. Jalen Hurts is the toughest player I've ever been around." 

Hurts did not participate in the team's practices on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week while Minshew, after missing Tuesday's walkthough practice as he attended the funeral of his former college head coach, Mike Leach, took the first-team reps on Wednesday.

"Gardner will be our guy and Gardner will be ready. Gardner worked his butt off for this opportunity against a really good football team. Had a great practice yesterday, I think you guys have all heard that, how good a practice he had yesterday, a lot of energy out there. He's ready to go," Sirianni said.

The Eagles have all the confidence in the world in Minshew, who has played in 30 career games with 22 starts (20 of them with Jacksonville, from whom the Eagles acquired Minshew in a trade prior to the 2021 season), including two in the 2021 regular season for the Eagles. In his first start, a key December 5 win at the New York Jets, Minshew completed 20 of 25 passes for 242 passes and two touchdowns, both to tight end Dallas Goedert, as the Eagles defeated the Jets, 33-18.

Minshew also started the regular-season finale when, with the starters taking the week off ahead of the postseason game at Tampa Bay, he completed 19 of 33 passes for 186 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.

"He's been here for awhile, so if he's the guy we'll be ready to go," center Jason Kelce said earlier in the week of Minshew. "I think he's done a good job when we've asked him before. He's a veteran player, played a lot of football in the NFL. He'll be ready to go.

"This is the way the NFL works."

No doubt there will be tweaks in the offensive approach given Minshew's skill set versus the dynamism that Hurts brings to the table. In the win over the Jets last season, Minshew's favorite target was Goedert, who caught 6 passes for 105 yards on 6 targets. While athletic enough to escape pressure and keep plays alive in the pocket and even to run when the opportunity presents itself, Minshew isn't Hurts.

And he won't try to be, either. He'll be the quarterback the Eagles know he is, and that's plenty good enough to win important games.

"Everybody's got a lot of respect for Gardner," said Goedert, who had some extra practice time with Minshew running routes on air and working together after practice as Goedert was rehabbing the shoulder injury that sent him to Injured Reserve and forced him to miss five games. "He came in here after he was in Jacksonville, you know 'Minshew Mania,' and he kind of had that legend behind him, you know? He came in here and he didn't disappoint. He's been himself since the day he got here. He's a little different – in the best way possible. He comes to work every day. He prepares to be the starter, even though he's the backup.

"He just waits his time for an opportunity like this and we all have faith that he's going to make the most of it. He's a smart football player and he's going to take what the defense gives him. Maybe the Cowboys will play a little soft inside worrying about A.J. (Brown) and DeVonta (Smith) and hopefully they'll forget about me so he can just dump it to me over the middle. That would be pretty nice."

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